Stand Up to Bullying With a Pulitzer Prize Winner
In every generation, there are kids who become bullies. They bully their siblings, neighbour kids, and their classmates. They seem to believe that other kids look up to them and respect them. That is self-delusion, as most adults are aware, but kids don't have the experience to properly judge what is respect and what is merely fear. . The bullies may even be damaged by these interactions along with their victims. As young and inexperienced as they are, most schoolyard bullies think they will rule over the figures close to them from now until forever. You can see the result of this thinking in boardrooms, schoolrooms, and the political arena.
Famed American writer and civil rights activist Alice Walker is one of several inspiring role models who overcame bullying. She was tormented from childhood for having a 'defect' that was none of her doing. Her brother accidentally shot her in one eye with a BB gun, giving the eye the appearance of a white film. As bullies do, kids delighted in constantly pointing out the problem. Fortunately, Alice used the experience to make herself stronger.
How do we teach our children to prevent being bullied or, more important, how to avoid becoming a bully?
Stomp Out Bullying has a list of actions kids or adults can take to lessen bullying. The site has real-world advice for those caught up in a bully's drama.
Become an Upstander is the Stomp Out Bullying's action plan that counsels the bystanders not to take part in the unkind drama. They are told not to laugh at the victim, not to take part in shaming or name-calling, and to tell an adult. Bullies are like a balloon without air when their audience flees.
Many bullies are encouraged by power figures who turn the proverbial blind eye to their actions. Bullies grow up into adults, and sometimes they achieve powerful positions. If they become school principals, factory bosses, or heads of corporations, those lessons of how to push people around for their own purposes or even amusement do not fade.
What will it take to reduce bullying? If parents are honest with themselves, they will be able to spot a budding bully before anyone else. Does an older sibling consistently use power plays on the younger creating tears and frustration in the younger? Do other parents often not allow one of their children to play at their home? Are the parents called more than once to a principal's office with accusations of bullying? November 20, 2020, is International Stand Up to Bullying Day. Make it your mission to check in with kids in your life. Take a few minutes to look around and watch your kids. Remember, parents are the first line of defence.
For stories about bullying, we can recommend:
Leave Me Alone by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish and One Night in Beartown by Nick Jones and Si Clark for young children
Tadcaster and the Bullies by Richard Rutherford for emerging readers
No Stone Unturned by Helen Watts for the middle-grade reader
Saturday Girl by Helena Pielichaty and Tease by Amanda Maciel for teens